You know, I absolutely loathed Borderlands. It never managed to grab my attention despite investing quite a bit of time in the game. It’s a first-person shooter loot game where depending on how your brain is wired, decides whether you will absolutely adore the game, or hate it entirely.
However, Borderlands 2 managed to exceed my meagre expectations and it’s something that made me appreciate how good video games can be. Make no mistake about it, I’ve played this game for 50 hours now with no final boss battle in sight. Our Xbox 360 review was posted when the embargo was up, so that gave me enough time to devour the PC version of the game, and boy, did I do that.
If you have played the first Borderlands on the PC, the poor quality of the port was something that Gearbox had to fix in the sequel. That they did. BL 2 features extensive graphical settings and, while it’s optimized well for low end machines, expect your high end PC to choke a bit when faced with combat heavy scenarios and levels with a lot of stuff going on.
Physx was absolutely vital for me, and I know it feels weird to say this, but this game may have the best implementation of the feature ever. When you shoot an enemy or just throw grenades, your screen will be filled with particles and its something that is glorious to look at. The Cell Shaded visual style is no secret, too. Although, in some maps it may feel like someone vomited a bunch of colours on your screen. It’s a bit inconsistent, because some areas really do look like CG quality.
BL2 features four new vault hunters and you get to choose any one of them before starting the game. Each one has their own unique abilities which really enhances the replayability factor, but again, that’s not a secret. It’s somewhat close to Diablo in its loot design, and you know how it is when you get hooked to games like that. It can be devastating for your social life. The quest to get the best loot always overrides your thinking to just finish the damn game.
I chose the Gunzerker class, because I just felt like shooting people in the face. Actually, the hilarious thing is, there’s actually a mission in the game where you, umm, get to shoot a bandit in the face. Its like the shortest mission ever, and will definitely elicit a chuckle out of you. However, one major drawback is the fact that you have to travel long distances to complete these side missions, which can be somewhat repetitive but not that much to make you lose interest in it.
Gearbox has designed the game well, where new side quests only pop up when you finish main missions as well. It gives you enough breathing room and gives you the opportunity to level up your character and get some decent weapons in the process. I advise people to attempt these side quests for this very fact. The main missions can sometimes have brutal difficulty, where dying frequently will just make you respawn. You must be thinking that’s a good thing; oh no, it’s not. Respawning means parting with a specific percentage of your total cash. That will hurt.
Say, you have 90k cash, so be prepared to lose 9k in a single respawn. This is frustrating game design but there’s no shortage of money in the game. Sell whatever you find after keeping the cool items, it’s a loot game after all. You can accumulate 150k to 200k in cash before the game ends. Of course, don’t make the mistake of buying weapons using money, because they’re worthless and you will find a better ones during a conventional battle. Fight enemies higher your level, and bam, you will be well equipped for a while.
There are different versions of a standard enemy, with ultimate being the, uh, ultimate rank. For example, a Goliath can also morph into Ultimate badass Goliath mid-battle. He will kick your ass, you can count on that, unless you take advantage of his limited brain and wait for him to destroy your enemies and his allies. Hey, did I mention I love this game? Because it’s totally fun to manipulate your enemies. Most battles devolve into mindless shooting though, with some enemies like Mechs having weakness to corrosion, and bandits having weakness to _____. Yeah, fill in the blanks. Hint: not bullets.
Of course, there are nasty creatures like Varkid, which is frankly, the most annoying enemy in the game. Normal bandits are completely useless which was expected, really. They all utter some weird dialogue when charging at you, for example, one guy charged into me saying “I am the one who knocks,” before I bashed his teeth in with the shotgun. It’s a Breaking Bad reference–a popular TV show that’s full of win. There are such things littered all over Pandora, which always brings a smile to my face.
Handsome Jack, the antagonist, keeps mocking you with some of the most hilarious dialogues ever spoken in a video game. The attempt at humorous writing here is commendable. They actually managed to pull it off and make me smile/chuckle. There are a lot of useless guns that you will find on your journey as you keep visiting the same areas again and again. Although, the enemy variety is something I really loved. Damn, those midgets.
You can get lost sometimes due to the inconsistent map layout, and thus, it will be required to keep an eye on the mini map indicator all the time. There’s a lot of maps here which will stay fresh due to how gigantic and varied they are. Your journey will take you on Snow, desert, lush greenery, caverns, facilities, etc. maps, which have minor checkpoint stations littered at specific distances.
Bl2 is designed with co-op in mind, but considering I played the entire game solo, and just a few segments with friends, the experience for me was more or less similar. If a friend joins your game, the enemies become stronger, which means more XP and loot. It’s a great way to level up. The game is something that can be termed as a solid sequel, just falling short of Uncharted 2 and Mass Effect 2 where an incredible leap is concerned.
Gearbox have made a tremendous game which builds upon its predecessor in almost every area, and offers gamers a huge amount of content and replayability. There are some minor niggles and frustrating design decisions but it’s a loot game at heart, and if you love things like that, you just can’t go wrong with it.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Gorgeous visuals on PC. Well optimized. Humorous writing. Lot of content. Replayability factor through the roof. Co-op is a blast. Fun missions.
Map layout is a bit inconsistent. Less gore. Majority of weapon drops similar.